In 2011, former Russian president Vladimir Putin announced his bid for re-election. In Russia, as in the United States, there are term limits for presidents, in order to limit the power that one person can hold over a country. There is a loophole in Russian politics, though – one person can only serve two terms in a row. Thus, Putin and current president Dmitri Medvedev have poised themselves to dance around the constitution, with Putin as president for two terms, then Medvedev holding a slot, and Putin again, to infinity (and probably beyond).
You can’t make this stuff up.
Russian politics are intriguing and full of mayhem. Russian art, which includes masterpieces by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov, Solzhenitsyn, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and more, has contributed in a fundamental way to world culture. Russian history, with its unexpected twists and turns, all-powerful tsars, even more all-powerful holy fools, and most all-powerful communist leaders, is dripping with global lessons. The study of Russia is the academic gift that keeps on giving.
And it begins with the language. Approximately 300 million people speak Russian worldwide, and geographically, Russia is the largest country in the world (not to mention all of the other countries where Russian is spoken). Russian is the most common native language in Europe, and is used as a lingua franca throughout Eastern Europe and Asia. It is one of the five official languages of the U.N., and a quarter of the world’s scientific literature is published in Russian. Study of Russian opens up an entire world, literally as well as figuratively.
With the knowledge of the language comes a more complete understanding of the culture, the history, the literature, the politics, the science, and the people. The study of Russian allows students to have a depth of knowledge critical to being a global citizen.
The benefits are tangible. Russian has been designated as a critical needs language by the department of defense, which means that knowledge of Russian makes a career in the government or military both easier to attain and more lucrative. Students of Russian stand out from the crowd as individuals unafraid of a challenge and willing to work hard. Business opportunities in Russia abound, as Russia controls a large percent of the world’s natural resources, the economy is in an upswing after the fall of the Soviet Union, and globalization is pushing American companies to expand.
Besides. Russian is fun.
Courses in the Russian language are offered through the Department of Modern Languages. Students with a background in Russian should consult with Susan Vdovichenko about appropriate placement.